Bean Kaloni Tupou interrogates the pain and beauty of past relationships in elegant new video
But it’s all the same / when goodness and evil intertwine / we know of the past and / still repeat it all the time – Try the Pie, “Thomas”
San Jose, CA native Bean Kaloni Tupou is a longtime creator of art and culture in the South Bay. They have generated countless shows, songs, and music videos that show how deep and real the community of artists of color is, despite the erasure by those who think the DIY and punk scene is only a white space. Tupou has been a member and leader of underground indie mainstays like Sourpatch and Crabapple, and is now performing solo work under the moniker Try the Pie. Recently, they ran an arts camp for youth in San Jose and worked as an instructor alongside videographer Anders Ericsson. Their classroom was filled with young students of color who were learning how to take photos with professional lights and equipment. The students’ confidence grew as they celebrated their poses, faces, and bodies with equipment that is often reserved for those who can both afford it and fit concepts of advertisement beauty.
Tupou and Ericsson’s artistic relationship continued after the camp, and their first production is the Try the Pie video for “Thomas,” a track Tupou wrote for their younger brother on their last LP Domestication. “Domestication is a lovely, graceful, intimate record,” says Ericsson. “I felt an immediate connection to ‘Thomas,’ to this narrative of revisiting and interrogating old relationships, the way that we sometimes manage to compartmentalize our traumas and carry them with us. The visual dissonance between the foliage in the mirrors and the landscape ahead of the truck felt like an organic way to engage with those ideas. Really, though, the most important part of this video is the sense of quiet honesty and confidence that Bean brings to live performance. It’s direct, and completely magnetic.” Through the video’s elegant simplicity, you can indeed feel Tupou’s complex, sometimes painful recollections of past relationships. They move forward in space, looking back amidst trees, sky, and reflections of the world around them, singing, “Moments and change / unforeseeable restraints / it must be strange to be / the one who stays the same.”
So many resources and investment go into making music videos, especially for DIY artists who hold every drop of their work so close. Tupou has been the producer and director for many of their own music videos, such as Inevitabilities and Root to Branch. “This video was definitely a little more of a production than I’m used to, it was a learning experience because of that,” they explain. “It’s so refreshing and affirming to work with such a kind group of people who all came together to make one vision happen, everyone was enjoying themselves and that’s how I knew I was amongst passionate creators. It was nice to have this song honored in a way that elevated its message.”
In a geographic area being swarmed by techies and gentrification, these two Bay Area natives have found that collaboration is a way to fight for art, culture, and space in the Bay Area. As Ericsson puts it, “I’m not sure how I fell into filmmaking but I know I’ve stayed because of the community I’m lucky enough to count myself a part of. The video was made with a volunteer crew, and 100% of our equipment was donated. The Bay Area can feel like a hostile place to live in as a creative, and we tend to gravitate to each other like dust bunnies. Bean is one of the hardest working and most prolific musicians and community organizers in the South Bay, so we inevitably began crossing paths. I don’t think a video like this could be completed anywhere else. We have such passionate, talented artists and craftspeople all hoping to make noise. It’s so much fun when we finally get the chance to play together on something we all believe in.”